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Monkeypox cases rising quickly in the US

July 2022 Update: Is this the next pandemic?

Monkeypox virus

What is Monkeypox?

Safersex.com first reported about the virus in May of 2022. There were a handful of cases reported in the US at the time. Therefore, the reporting focused on the rarity of the infection. Additionally, gay or bisexual men accounted for most or all cases. Just two months later, cases have increased rapidly, and it's being reported by all genders and sexualities. To learn more about Monkeypox, check out this article.

How many cases are there?

The CDC reports that it's been found in all but 7 states as of the date of this article. The CDC has published a map and case count for every state in the US. On July 15, 2022, 1,814 cases were reported in the United States. The case counts continue to increase daily.

How is it spread?

The CDC says:

Monkeypox spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

It’s also possible for people to get it from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal, or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

The virus can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. People who do not have symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. At this time, it is unknown if it can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.

Monkeypox Signs and Symptoms

This is a rare disease caused by infection with the virus. The virus is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. Therfore, symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder; and it is rarely fatal. It is not related to chickenpox.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.

Prevention Steps

Prevention starts with following these steps:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people with a rash or pustules.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with the virus.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with the virus.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • In Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread the virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or other materials they have touched.

If you are experiencing symptoms:

  • Isolate at home
  • If you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.

Monkeypox Vaccination

CDC recommends vaccination for people exposed to the virus and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to it, including:

  • People identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with the virus
  • People who may have been exposed to monkeypox, such as:
    • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
    • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox
  • People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses, such as:
    • Laboratory workers who perform testing for orthopoxviruses
    • Laboratory workers who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses
    • Some designated healthcare or public health workers

What should you do if exposed or experience symptoms.

First, contact a medical professional. Currently, the method of testing requires sampling the rash or pustules to determine whether it's Monkeypox. Your healthcare provider should provide you with the most current information and treatments available if diagnosed with the virus. Avoid physical contact with others. Monkeypox is not spread through the air like other viruses and infections. Sanitize any surface that may have come in contact with the rash.

For current data and information on Monkeypox, visit the CDC Monkeypox page.

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